And, the longer things stay out of balance, the longer and harder it will be to get things back into balance.
Our national debt and annual budget deficits illustrate this problem. Each year of deficit spending adds to the national debt. The higher the debt gets, the higher the annual costs to service the debt. The higher the annual debt service, the harder it is to balance the next year’s budget. So deficits and debt spiral up and up.
What to do?
Listening, reading, and watching lead me to the obvious solution – just point the finger of blame at the right people and programs.
On a Sunday talk show, one pundit noted that Democrats aren’t too concerned about going over the fiscal cliff, “because Republicans will get blamed.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has floated a “two bill” scheme to help Republicans avoid blame for any tax hikes. Republicans, in general, blame liberals, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other social programs. Democrats, in general, blame Tea Partiers, Bush’s unfunded tax cuts and unfunded wars, tax breaks for big oil, and the Great Recession brought on by Wall Street.
Satire aside, we, the people, should point at ourselves. After all, we elected and continue to elect the ninnies who got us into this mess.
Columnist George Will likes to say we, the people, want government to provide us a dollar’s worth of services for which we only want to pay 65 cents. Doesn’t matter if its social welfare or corporate welfare, tax cuts or tax credits, we want government, i.e., somebody else, to bear the cost burden.
That’s no way to run a railroad … or the Post Office. But our elected representatives give us what we want.
So, they spend their time playing the blame game as deficits and debt grow and grow. People offering serious solutions, and they are few, get ignored.
For the record, the fiscal cliff spending cuts and tax increases do not end deficits or reduce debt. Neither does the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction proposal. Both slow spending growth, but neither achieves balance. Whatever agreement Obama and Boehner may come to is likely to do even less.
One proposal with real potential came from Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn. Last year he proposed a $9 trillion deficit reduction package. Over a ten-year period, it would cut $3 trillion from entitlements, $3 trillion from discretionary and other accounts, $1 trillion from defense, and $1 trillion from interest costs, plus raise $1 trillion in revenue by eradicating tax loopholes and deductions.
Not hearing about that are we? No, and since it would hurt everyone, we aren’t likely to.
And who’s to blame for that?
Bill Crawford (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a syndicated columnist from Meridian.